Best Tactical Pens

Updated May 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

33 Models Considered
20 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
200 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best tactical pens

If you love the idea of having objects that can multitask, you’re probably a fan of the Swiss Army knife. If that’s the case, the tactical pen should be high on your list of all-in-one objects too.

The tactical pen gives you a writing utensil that provides some self-defense capabilities and features you can use in an emergency. Because the tactical pen looks like a high-quality writing pen, you can carry it almost anywhere; it’s small enough to fit in a pocket or purse.

When you’re ready to find the best tactical pens, we at BestReviews are ready to help. Please click on the tactical pens we recommend. If you’d like to discover more facts about tactical pens, just keep reading.

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Carrying a tactical pen in your vehicle is a good idea, as it has so many features that could prove useful to you in a tough situation.

What are tactical pens?

Tactical pens are multi-tool devices that look like high-quality ink pens. They provide the ability to write in several weather conditions, making use of replaceable ink cartridges.

But the tactical pen goes beyond just writing. When used correctly, it could puncture or slash the skin of an attacker, giving you time to escape.

Some have flashlights, glass-breaking tools, and other components you may need in an emergency.

Tactical pens consist of lightweight but extremely tough metals, such as airplane-grade aluminum.

They are sized similarly to writing pens. This means you can slide the tactical pen into a pocket, purse, or glove box in a car for easy access whenever it’s needed.

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Expert Tip
Consider some self-defense training classes along with carrying a tactical pen to become more able to defend yourself.

Tactical pens features and uses

Different models and brands of tactical pens have different features built into them, but a few features are common to all pens, including the ability to write and a striking tip.

If you want a particular feature, make sure you read through the feature list before making your purchase.

Pocket clip

The clip on the tactical pen will be far sturdier and tougher than a clip on a standard writing pen. This allows you to keep the tool close at hand.

"Tactical pens have tough clips that allow you to carry them in the most convenient location for your needs."


Some tactical pens have a tiny penlight flashlight built into them. This can be a really handy feature to use when you’re trying to change a tire at night or when the power goes out.

Glass breaking

If you’re in a car accident and need to escape through the window, the power window switch may not work. If you’re in a fire and need to break a window to escape, you may not have any tools handy to break the glass. The striker tip in the tactical pen will break the glass when used properly.

"Yes, you can write with a tactical pen. But people like having one at hand because it does so much more than a standard ink pen."

Wet weather writing

Ink cartridges in tactical pens are designed to work in all kinds of weather. So even damp paper can’t stop the tool from working.

Retractable vs. cap

Some tactical pens use a cap to protect the writing tip and striking tip. Others use a retractable button to reveal those items as needed. As with most pens, it’s easy to lose the cap, so you may want a retractable version. Additionally, without a retractable option, your tactical pen may be confiscated at the airport.

"The grip is another key aspect of a tactical pen. Different models use different etchings or materials in the body of the pen to provide a sturdy grip texture."


Certainly, a tactical pen’s striking tip isn’t as daunting as other weapons you can carry. But it also isn’t the most obvious weapon to an attacker. So you may be able to use the element of surprise.

Small tools

A few tactical pens contain basic tools, such as a small knife blade, a bottle opener, or a hex wrench. This almost makes them more like a Swiss Army knife. However, these basic tools don’t work all that well in most cases.

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Did you know?
Some tactical pens include multi-tool features, a little bit like a Swiss Army knife.

Tactical pens prices

The price tag may surprise you at first glance, but these handy all-in-one tools have so many cool features that you’ll still be receiving a good value.

Budget-friendly (less than $15)

The most inexpensive versions are also the least feature-rich. Many of these tactical pens will have caps rather than retractable ends. Cheap tactical pens don’t offer the surest grip, as they may be a little slippery in wet weather.

"Don’t assume that one tactical pen has the same features as another pen in the same price range. Read the feature list for each pen carefully."

Mid-range ($15 to $35)

If you’re looking for a feature-rich and sturdy tactical pen, you can find plenty of options in this price range. Some models include flashlights to complement the other features. They often have retractable striking and writing tips.

Expensive (more than $35)

These high-priced models consist of the toughest materials. This means that if you want to be sure your pen will stand up to tough working conditions, shopping in a higher price range is worth your while. The design of the grips in these high-quality tactical pens will ensure you can hold the pen tightly in all conditions. Furthermore, this price range features pens with the greatest number of built-in tools.

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One of the best aspects of a tactical pen is its tough build quality, as it’s made from hardened metals.


Q. Why are tactical pens so expensive?

A. Sure, a tactical pen’s price tag may be surprising. However, you have to remember that a functional tool doesn’t cost much more than a high-quality writing pen. It has so many features built into it that it actually has a reasonable price point when you consider how much it would cost to buy all of those objects separately.

Q. Do I need to store my tactical pen in a certain way when not in use?

A. Although we’d recommend storing your tactical pen in a cool, dry place when you aren’t using it, storage is not a significant concern with these items. After all, manufacturers have designed them to work in harsh conditions, so they can take a lot of punishment.

Q. Do I need to be trained to use a tactical pen as a self-defense tool?

A. Not necessarily. A tactical pen is a popular tool to carry for self-defense because it’s easy to use. But it can be more effective if you have some training.

Q. What are some drawbacks to tactical pens?

A. If you want to carry your tactical pen on an airplane, make sure any of its features that could be considered a weapon, such as the striker, can be retracted. Certain designs include both the striker tip and the writing tip on the same end, which can make it difficult to write. Tactical pens won’t give you the type of flawless ink quality you’d receive with a dedicated pen set. Finally, some units use a cap to protect the writing tip or other components, which you could lose.

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